This is the way the world ends

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... with a fart, not a whimper. Or, if you prefer, a whammo, a flip or a flush! That is, according to exitmundi, a fun little website that's gone to the trouble of detailing more than 40 ways in which the world could, potentially, end (no really, you should've have). Here are a few of our favorite apocalyptic scenarios:

  • Fart: vast amounts of methane gas currently trapped under the seafloor are released -- as happened 55 million years ago, when a "killer fart" triggered a massive sea life die-off and raised temperatures worldwide.
  • Grey goo: Nanotechnology philosophers foresee that one day (some estimate around 2010) it will be possible to create a nano assembler: a man made molecule that is `programmed' to create certain things out of raw materials. A nano assembler would for instance pick up plain carbon atoms and rearrange them into the molecular structure of a diamond. Or it would make water out of the atomic parts of plain air. Or -- other nano assemblers. In which case, theoretically, within only 72 hours after the release of the first molecular nano machine, every single atom on earth would be `used' to create new nano machines. In other words, all plants, animals, humans, cars, buildings and even rocks would have been `eaten up' by a vast, exponentially growing army of invisibly small nano devices.
  • Black holes in your backyard: miniature, man-made black holes created in laboratory environments become stable (the ones they're making now radiate themselves out of existence instantaneously), drift towards the center of the earth (they're extremely small and can float through most matter without interacting with it), until finally, they touch an electron or an atom, eat them like Wheaties, and start to get bigger. Eventually a few of these rogue black holes merge, and before you know it they've sucked up the Earth's mantle, core, etc.

So if you're feeling sinister, check it out. The scenarios are surprisingly well-researched, and organized by category (from science-based apocalypse to religious eschatology, and everything in between).

January 10, 2007 - 3:51am
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